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Knowledge and Belief

5. Believing at Will

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the long-standing philosophical problem of believing at will. Is belief-formation the kind of thing that just happens to us (the same as, e.g. blushing), or does it respond to the will? In particular, we focus on the positions and arguments of René Descartes, David Hume, and Bernard Williams.


In this course, Dr Barney Walker (University of Warwick) considers three aspects of knowledge and belief. In the first three modules, we explore the idea of knowledge as justified true belief, focusing in particular on the concept of analysing knowledge and the objections of Edmund Gettier to the theory of justified true belief. After that, in the fourth module, we think about the value of knowledge, looking in particular at the issues raised in Plato’s Meno. And in the fifth module, we turn to the question whether we can believe something at will – a puzzle that has occupied philosophers including René Descartes, David Hume, and Bernard Williams.


Dr Barney Walker is a Teaching Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Warwick. His research focuses on epistemology and philosophy of mind, especially with issues about enquiry, the value of knowledge, and the nature of belief.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Walker, B. (2018, September 05). Knowledge and Belief - Believing at Will [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Walker, B. "Knowledge and Belief – Believing at Will." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 05 Sep 2018,